It is widely known that it can take years to build a brand and seconds to destroy it.
In property, however, the personal brand is almost more important than the company.
There are very few property advisory brands for example that clients ‘have’ to work with, which means many are not getting the brand right. Relationships are built with the individual or teams and, if they do a good job, they get rewarded by being instructed as advisers on a new project for example or loyalty so that their contract gets extended rather than re-tendered.
Where this becomes interrupted is if the company does something wrong which means they can no longer work with any individual, however good they are, at that organisation. I remember after having built up a relationship for years with a client and producing many great projects together, I was told that he couldn’t work with me anymore because of my organisation’s violation of sanctions in Cuba, Iran and Sudan. That was that.
Companies need to focus on their reputation positively and proactively, as well as mitigate crises. That’s when the person does not outshine an organisation, they become one and the same in a positive sense.
A brand’s reputation is built on three things:
– what employees are saying and feeling about their organisation
– what clients are saying and feeling about the company
– what competitors’ perceptions are
A good brand will find that all three say the same thing. That’s when a message is clearest and most compelling.
Take Grainger for example, known as the UK’s largest listed residential landlord. They are also recognised for their outstanding success in the market, with recent results showing a robust performance, despite the uncertain market.
Then there is their keen diversity – both CEO and CFO are women and, until Baronness Ford stepped down, so was their Chairperson. Their employee engagement is high with over 90% of staff retained year on year.
In terms of the competition’s view on Grainger, I was lucky enough to sit on the judging panel for Property Week’s 2017 ‘Property Company of the Year’ award which looks at diversity, innovation and performance amongst other attributes (undoubtedly likeability plays a factor). Grainger was deemed the runaway winner, demonstrating that contemporaries and competitors alike have a huge amount of respect for the brand. So, in terms of delivery to all audiences, Grainger gets it right.
Many brands punch above their weight externally, particularly in property. They say the right things (mostly) and position themselves in various profile raising ways. However, if employees are disenchanted or, worse, disengaged, that brand will inevitably unravel in due course because the ‘market’ message is not underpinned by corresponding behaviour – employees need to believe a message to live it and, better, be an ambassador for it.
Which brings it back to the personal. For organisations to be truly successful, they must always start on the inside. With a strong culture, well-rewarded and happy, healthy and motivated staff, there is all the potential in the world to promote a brand, whether it be the personal or the corporate. And of course, this is all linked to wellness and how employees feel and interact with buildings…
Blackstock understands employee engagement and business change, as it does brand and communications. We have also worked with companies to build both the personal and the corporate brand with notable successes including: Mark Farmer at Cast, John Assael at Assael Architecture and Johnny Caddick at Moda.
Get in touch to find out how we can support you in these areas.